In a town hall meeting in Parramatta, New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet promised to protect religious freedoms while introducing legislation to end gay conversion therapy in the next parliament. The proposed reforms have raised concerns among some religious leaders that the legislation could place limitations on what can be preached about marriage, human sexuality, and gender. Perrottet reassured the audience of mixed-faith leaders and voters that the legislation would not ban prayer or preaching and that it was fundamental to freedom of religion.
Perrottet also announced that his government would allocate $10 million towards securing places of worship, including religious schools, that face demonstrated security risks. The funding could be used for measures such as security services, lighting, fencing, CCTV, and staff training. Leaders present from the Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and Islamic communities thanked him for the support and called on him to do more to strengthen legal protections for people of faith, including a provision to deal with the vilification of religious people.
The premier said he was open to working with the recently formed NSW Religious Communities Advisory Council to develop ways to strengthen the laws around religious freedom. He also promised to work with faith leaders on the council to improve religious teaching at public schools and look into anecdotal reports that hospital and prison chaplains were hard to find at some facilities.
Perrottet’s vow to protect religious freedoms while cracking down on harmful practices has raised concerns among faith communities in New South Wales. However, the premier has assured them that the proposed legislation will not ban prayer or preaching, and that he is open to working with the faith communities to strengthen legal protections for people of faith. The allocation of $10 million towards securing places of worship has been welcomed by leaders from various faith communities.